"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: The Academy, Week 2
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
Last night, Travis Wall led the contestants in a contemporary choreography round, followed by a ballroom round with Dmitry Chaplin and his partner, Jenya NoLastName. (No, seriously. They never tell us her last name.) Those who survive and make it onto an All-Star team will go on to the [dreaded] group round. (You know, the one where the dancers have to stay up all night choreographing a routine, and then perform it for the All Stars super early the next morning.)
You can tell so many of the dancers hoping to make the Top 10 totally idolize Travis Wall. As soon as he walks onstage, their eyes brighten. And then he opens with, "I'm just gonna warn you, it's a pretty hard combo." Bless you, Travis. He says he's "not interested in building robots today," and is giving the dancers lots of room for self-expression (including starting the combo with a freestyle section—love that).
Here's what went down during the contemporary round:
- Taylor Sieve from the L.A. auditions was gorgeous. She wanted to land a spot on Robert's team—and she did! "She's got that heart that I'm looking for," Robert says. (She was then joined on Team Robert by Jonathan Wade and Jennifer Florentino.)
- Ariel Disciascio was sent home. Sad.
- Dancers who were already chosen to be on All Star teams were still dancing. This is confusing. Why do the dancers have to keep going through the motions—literally, the choreography motions—when they're already on a team? Nigel, please explain.
- Tapper Chaz Wolcott was sent home. He was out to get redemption after a tough hip-hop round, and at 29 years old, this was his last shot at making the Top 10. Robert tells Chaz he loves his smile and personality, but bye.
- Havoc and Klassic from the NYC auditions had a rough go. TBH, they both botched the choreography. Klassic was sent home, but Cyrus isn't ready to say l8r to Havoc, so he asked him to dance for his life. He did, the All Stars loved it, and he made it to Team Cyrus.
On to the ballroom round!
The dancers are given one hour to master a cha cha—a style Dmitry says many dancers spend an entire lifetime trying to perfect. NBD!
Here's how the ballroom round shook out:
- Jensen Arnold wanted to join a team so badly. She was paired with Logan Hernandez (Team Allison represent!), and she's so good and cute (and is a total #twinsie of big sis Lindsay). After a tear-jerking (and very stressful, TBH) speech, Jensen nabbed a spot on Team Robert.
- Remember Vasily? It seemed like he was going to get sent home, but at the last minute, Paul was all, "Join my team."
- Matthew Deloch got sent home, which is sad because he's so good! But he was classy about it, and said he's going to go take ballroom and hip-hop classes, and will return next season to make the Top 10.
- Alexis Gilbert from the L.A. auditions—you remember her sultry jazz routine, right?—landed a spot on Team Jenna. Good job, Alexis!
The dancers were given a night to choreograph and perfect a group routine before the next morning—which started at 6 am. That's just unkind.
The dancers were told they'd be performing in groups for the All Stars, and each All Star would eliminate one member from his or her team. So this went from "So You Think You Can Dance" to "America's Got Talent" to "Survivor," basically.
First up: Paul's group!
This group clashed during rehearsal. A lot. Kristina and Vasily were vicious, and the choreo was a little awkward, and the performance wasn't jaw-dropping. Paul said he expected more, and he was clearly disappointed that his kiddos didn't get along. He said he wanted to connect with and trust the person on his team. So Vasily, please pack your knives and go. ("Top Chef." Anyone?) Vasily looked shocked to be headed home, and Kristina was just like, "Boy bye."
Then it was time for Team Allison.
Oh, Team Allison. Beautiful, lovely, wonderful Team Allison. Her team consisted of Logan, Zachary, Abby, and krumper Kevin Davis Jr. They told Allison that the night went really well, and that even though Kevin struggled to keep up with his contemporary counterparts, he maintained an A+ attitude.
And the routine was so good. Allison loved it and seemed so proud, and maybe we cried a little bit watching, but so did Allison, so it's fine. (We predict Logan will ultimately be Allison's live show partner. Anyone else?) But Allison still had to send someone home, and that person was Kevin.
But plot twist!
Jenna stole him! After Allison told Kevin he'd been voted off the island, Jenna swooped in to save him. She was all, "I'll never let go, Kevin," so now he has a spot on Team Jenna. But, as a result, Jenna had to send two of her existing team members home. Bummer for them, but yay for Kevin. (Again, Nigel, the rules! We did not know stealing was allowed!)
As the episode wrapped up, Robert sent Jensen home (boo! hiss! but considering her DNA, we think she'll be just fine), and we found out that there's still one more week of The Academy. Next week, Sonya Tayeh joins the ranks to teach the remaining dancers some jazz. And now that summer is half over, we can't help but wonder: When are these live shows ever going to start?!
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
We love, love, LOVE figure skaters who completely embrace the dance aspect of the sport, putting real time and thought into their choreography and music choices (while also, you know, casually pulling off death-defying jumps). This Olympics, a lot of attention has (rightly) been focused on frontrunner Nathan Chen, whose ballet background lends him a beautiful grace and fluidity on the ice. But it was Chen's teammate Adam Rippon who stole our dance-loving hearts yesterday, making his Olympic debut with a routine choreographed by none other than "So You Think You Can Dance" alum Benji Schwimmer.
Friends: HE. SLAYED. And because Rippon is the first openly gay U.S. man to qualify for any Winter Olympics—ever—the performance marked a major milestone.
Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."
Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I just moved up a level at my studio, and I'm really intimidated by the dancers in my new class. They're older than I am, and they're all so good. I feel like I don't belong, and that makes me even more likely to mess up. What can I do?
Though ballet has come a long way from its early days, New York City Ballet corps member, Olivia Boisson—one of the handful of black dancers in the industry—says there's still plenty more that can be done to promote diversity within the art form. Boisson got real about her experience in an article for Women's Health, which discusses everything from Boisson's early training to her work with NYCB.